Georgia Perimeter College Business Procedures Manual

Lodging Expenses

General Provisions 

Employees who travel more than fifty (50) miles (and outside the county) of their home campuses or places of residence may be reimbursed for lodging expenses associated with overnight travel. 

Employees will be reimbursed for the actual lodging expenses, provided the expenses are reasonable.  


Employee Responsibilities

Employees traveling overnight are responsible for ensuring the most reasonable lodging rates are obtained. To accomplish this, employees should:

  • Make reservations in advance, whenever practical,

  • Utilize minimum rate accommodations,

  • Avoid the “deluxe” hotels and motels, and

  • Obtain corporate/government rates, whenever possible.

Many hotels grant commercial rates upon request to state employees who show identification.  These rates may be exceeded, but must be justified, if an employee stays at a higher cost hotel where a meeting is held in order to avoid excessive transportation costs between a lower cost hotel and the location of the meeting, or for the safety of the individual.  


Reimbursement of Lodging Expenses for Overnight Travel Outside Georgia
 

Employees traveling out-of-state should refer to the federal per diem rates to identify high- cost areas of the United States, and to determine whether higher expenses are justified. The federal per diem rates are located at the following Internet addresses:

Note: The rates published by the federal government should only be used as a guide.

The approving official should approve lodging expenses associated with travel to high cost areas prior to the trip.


Lodging Associated with a Meeting or Seminar

Employees who stay at a hotel that is holding a scheduled meeting or seminar may incur lodging expenses that exceed the rates generally considered reasonable. The higher cost may be justified in order to avoid excessive transportation costs between a lower cost hotel and the location of the meeting. 

Authorization for Lodging within the 50 Mile Radius  

On occasions, institutions are required to sponsor conferences, trade shows, and other functions which require personnel to work at the event. In many cases, the persons planning and coordinating the event may reside or work less than 50 miles from the schedule meeting site.  

The Budget Office must approve overnight travel for such persons who are coordinating institution-sponsored events, provided the affected employees are required to begin work within nine hours of completing the previous day’s activities. In addition to lodging, affected employees may be reimbursed for meals and mileage in accordance with the provisions of the Travel Regulations. 

The following information is required for GPC Budget Office approval: 

  • Name of the employee,

  • Date and purpose of the event,

  • Responsibilities at the event; and,

  • The approval of the approving official.

 Authorization for such travel must be completed in advance of the scheduled event.

It should be noted that this provision only applies to conference and other institution-sponsored events that occur. This provision does not authorize persons to claim travel reimbursement for activities which are part of their normal responsibilities. In addition, this provision would not apply for persons who are required to attend evening meetings as part of their normal responsibilities.  

Shared Lodging

When a room is shared with other college employees on travel status, reimbursement will be calculated, if practical, on a prorated share of the total cost.  However, when a prorated share of lodging cost is claimed, the expense statement must show the name or names of the employees with whom the room is shared. The simplest method would be for each employee to ask for a separate bill for his or her share of the room cost.  

An individual on travel status accompanied by husband, wife, or other individual who is not an employee on travel status will only be entitled to reimbursement at the single room rate. 

Taxes Associated with Lodging Expenses

State and local government officials and employees traveling within the state on official business are exempt from paying the county or municipal excise tax on lodging (“hotel/motel” or “occupancy” tax). [OCGA 48-13-51 (a)(1)(C)(ii)]. Employees are required to pay any state/local sales and use taxes. The exemption when paying by personal credit card, check or cash applies only to the “hotel/motel” tax.  

Employees are required to submit a copy of the hotel/motel tax-exemption form when they register at a hotel/motel. The form is available on the Travel website: http://www.gpc.edu/~finaff/travel/forms/gahoteltaxform.htm.

It should be noted that the provisions of this exemption only apply to lodging expense incurred while traveling on official business and that any personal lodging expense (even if incurred at the same hotel or motel before or after the official business-related travel) would not qualify for the exemption. 

This exemption does not apply to employees staying at an out-of-state hotel/motel.

Employees should be able to provide proper identification to document their employment as a state or local government employee. Employees should be sure to present the hotel/motel tax-exemption form to the hotel at check-in. If the hotel refuses to accept the form at check-in, the employee should attempt to resolve the issue with hotel management before checking out at the end of their stay. Employees should review hotel/motel receipts to ensure that taxes have been applied correctly to their lodging expenses in accordance with the state tax laws and regulations. Employees should attempt to resolve any problems with the billing prior to checkout.  

If the matter is not resolved by the time the employee checks out, the employee should pay the tax. The employee should explain the payment of the tax as an unusual expense on their travel statement.

The college is authorized to reimburse the employee for the hotel/motel tax if the employee provides the Budget Office with the following information:

  • Employee name;

  • Date(s) of lodging;

  • Name, address, telephone number of hotel; and,

  • Documentation from the hotel/motel of their refusal to omit the excise tax.

The Budget Office will forward this information to the State Accounting Office by email to: SAO_Reporting@sao.ga.gov, or by regular mail to: 200 Piedmont Avenue, Suite 1604 West Tower, Atlanta, GA 30334.  


Resort and Other Fees

Some hotels include a charge for “resort” or other fees. These are not tax-exempt fees, and should be reimbursed as an eligible lodging expense. 


Lodging Expenses Incurred While Taking Leave
 

Employees who take annual leave while on travel status may not be reimbursed for lodging expenses incurred during the period of leave.


Required Documentation of Lodging Expenses

Daily lodging expenses, including applicable taxes, must be itemized on the employee travel expense statement. Employees requesting reimbursement for lodging expenses are required to submit receipts with their expense statement.  

Note: Refer to the note in the section “Reimbursement Procedures” for an exception to the requirement to submit lodging receipts.  

Individuals responsible for approving travel expenses should review these explanations to determine whether the higher costs are justified and allowable.  

As noted in “Miscellaneous Travel Expenses,” employees may be reimbursed for work-related Internet usage charges. These charges should be identified separately on the itemized hotel bill, but should not be listed on the travel expense statement as “Lodging.” Rather, these charges should be included in the “Miscellaneous” section of the travel expense statement.

Georgia’s “Green Hotels” Program

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has developed a program to identify and certify lodging properties that are taking significant steps to reduce their demands on Georgia’s natural resources and to act as good corporate citizens. These certified “Green Hotels” meet a stringent standard for environmental stewardship and operational efficiency. By using less toxic cleaning and maintenance chemicals, these hotels provide healthier conditions for guests and employees.  

When traveling on state business and hosting meetings, state employees are encouraged to explore opportunities to support these properties where cost-competitive. The current list of certified properties is available at the following Internet address:

http://www.p2ad.org/Assets/Documents/ci_grnhotel.html.